For many of us, when we train our cores what we tend to focus on are the isolated ab exercises, but in a new video on the Squat U channel, physical therapist Dr. Aaron Horschig reiterates the importance of working towards overall functional core stability, which can in turn benefit us in other lifts.
In Horschig's opinion, the best exercise you can do to challenge your core is the suitcase carry, also known as the single-arm farmer's carry, a unilateral exercise that requires you to maintain strict upright posture while carrying a weight on one side. "Carries keep the body engaged and stabilised," says Horschig. "If we don't have that stability, the pelvis starts moving wonky."
While a large number of the staple exercises we do at the gym, like the squat, deadlift and press, are all up-and-down motions which move along the sagittal plane, this exercise stresses the body in a side-to-side motion, moving along the frontal plane, helping to reduce weak links and risk of injury.
Start by grabbing a dumbbell or kettlebell. Then simply walk forward, keeping your shoulders and torso. It doesn't have to be particularly heavy, because even holding a relatively light weight on one side will provide a challenge in keeping your spine in position while in motion.
"What we're doing in keeping the pelvis in this parallel position to the ground is working the interplay between the glute medius on the stance leg, and the QL (quadratus lumborum) muscle in the lower back on the opposite side," explains Horshig.
When it comes to programming the suitcase carry into your regular workouts, Horschig recommends 3 or 4 rounds lasting 45 to 60 seconds each. Once you're performing this with ease, you can either use a heavier weight, or instead switch up your form and carry the weight at shoulder height to make the exercise more difficult and provide much more of a challenge to your stability.
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